Every singer/songwriter or musician has a seminal moment at some time in their lives. You hear or see something that makes you want to pick up an instrument and play. For Clint Bradley, it was hearing Marty Robbins sing his gunfighter ballads.
I have a vivid memory of hearing that sound for the first time, it totally captivated and drew me in. I think I was probably around 9-10 years old. If memory serves me correctly, the first song I learnt the chords to was ‘Running Gun’. I later discovered the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and others and with each step I took further into the world of Western music the more enchanted I became. I was fortunate to be born in “The New Forest” and as a child had the woods, heathlands and secret beaches of the Solent to wander around and dream in. Growing up in a rural area somehow seemed to fuel my interest in Western music, and the folklore of the Cowboy. If I wasn’t listening to western music, I was watching a western movie, or reading a western novel. I was quite simply lost to the genre.
My early attempts to form a band playing authentic Western music fell on stony ground. It proved extremely difficult at that time to convince other budding young musicians to share my passion. Around this time another influence came into my life, I discovered ‘Rockabilly’. The excitement and energy of early Rockabilly recordings from the likes of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Scotty & Bill, Carl Perkins, and others, opened another door in my musical career. At 16 years old it seemed like a natural outlet for me to fulfil my desire to write and play music.
I became a member of “The Blue Cats” and embarked on an adventure that took me around the world and back again in more ways than one. It was a heady time of youthful passion, but I will always be proud of what we created and achieved during that period.
After my departure from the band, I set out with my acoustic guitar, with no particular plan in mind other than to sing, play, write songs and travel. I discovered the acoustic scene along the way and began to appreciate a lot more the craft of songwriting. Around 1993-1994, I spent some time in the U.S. sitting in with different bands and doing open mic nights at acoustic venues when I got the chance. When I returned to England in 1995 I had a large selection of songs I had written on my travels, so I set about trying to secure a record label in order to record and release them. I signed with M&G (BMG) records in 1996.
By now my Western Ballad influence was really coming to the fore, but the powers that be were not altogether keen on me making an album that was ‘too cowboy’. The album (This Hour) got made, but with massive compromises. The label, however, ceased to exist not long after I completed the record, but not before a promo of one song “Guilty Heart” went out to radio. This song created a whole other audience for me.
To be honest the whole experience was one of gut-wrenching disappointment for me. With the benefit of hindsight, I suppose I should have got straight back on the horse and gone out and started to gig and build things again, but at the time I just wanted to get as far away from all of it as I could. In the meantime, a living had to be earned, so I began working on soundtracks and commercials.
After some time I began to notice things showing up on the internet. “Guilty Heart” had begun to gain some notoriety on a few stations in Europe. In 2008 I set up my website and immediately the emails started flooding in, and how grateful I was to receive them. It lifted my spirits from the dark corner in which they had been residing for some time, and I immediately felt the urge to write and play my own materiel again.
When my first ever dedicated Western album “Riding After Midnight” was released in June 2014, I felt that I’d finally reached my destination. Here at long last, I had done what I’ve wanted to do for so many years and record an album of songs in a style that I am truly passionate about. The reaction to that album has been a truly wonderful experience for me. Proof once and for all, that if people are allowed to hear Western music in its pure form, they can warm to it, regardless of where they live or what preconceptions they had of the genre.
Spotlight UK Artist interview
In January 2019 I will release my second Western album “Soul of the West” I wanted to bring more of myself to this album and for that reason, I’ve chosen a selection of my own songs. Written over the last couple of years, I believe this collection of songs reflect all the corners of my influence, from my lifelong love and passion for western music to the environment in which I live and some of the darker aspects of the world I see around me. There is no point in editing your own soul, sometimes you write a song on the spur of the moment directly after a personal experience or that of someone close to you, another time you write with a smile and the simple joy of the place you are in at that moment. That’s what I’ve tied to present with this album, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I have enjoyed writing and recording it.
Music and what it does to people spiritually is a powerful force. All of us are drawn to particular styles and sounds, we can’t explain why it just is. For many of us, the source of our passion can be thousands of miles from where we are born and live. So it is with me, I cannot claim to have lived a life on the prairie or even on the same continent as the artists who have always inspired me. All I have is the passion and the pure belief in the music…